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The BAMcinématek first opened its doors year-round in 1999 with a Spike Lee repertory series. Since then, it's been a wonderful source of truly wonderful film programming. To celebrate their 10th anniversary, they're starting an audacious new program: the BAMcinemaFEST, a 16-day festival running from June 17 to July 2. The program spans 67 films, many with a New York flavor, and why shouldn't they be: 23 directors are New York-based, and 14 of them are living close by in Brooklyn. Many of these films have been on the festival circuit (including this year's Tribeca); that said, it's an excellent line-up of flicks and worth checking out. Here are some of our picks:
3 New York Films to Watch
You Won't Miss Me
Ry Russo-Young's character study stars Stella Schnabel (yup, of the Schnabels) as Shelly, an aspiring actress just let out of the mental institution. As she teeters between lame dudes and the NY art scene, Russo-Young and Schnabel give us a portrait of a woman-on-the-verge in an utterly contemporary vision of New York. Screening on Friday, June 19 and Tuesday, June 23.
Russo-Young's short Marion played the 2005 TFF.
Julian Schnabel's Lou Reed's Berlin played the 2008 TFF.
The Virgins, a New York rock band, make an appearance in the film as well.
Merrick*, Long Island's finest: Robert Siegel, former editor-in-chief of The Onion and the screenwriter of Mickey Rourke's comeback The Wrestler, makes his writing/directing debut in this melancholy story about a Staten Island toll booth operator who lives and breathes the New York Giants. Starring erstwhile comedian Patton Oswalt in a heartbreaking role, this film has a gritty 70s-era-filmmaking sensibility and certainly establishes Siegel as one to watch. Screening on Friday, June 19 and Monday, June 22.
*Other interesting folks hailing from Merrick? Lindsay Lohan, Debbie Gibson, Amy Fisher, and Ben and Jerry.
William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe
Put together by his daughters, filmmakers Emily and Sarah Kunstler, this documentary tells the story of the prominent New York lawyer. Kunstler worked on cases that changed American history, from civl rights struggles alongside Martin Luther King Jr. to defending the Chicago EIght and much, much more. His pursuit of justice and his defense of society's outcasts had a particular effect on his family, and his daughters take an unflinching look at his life and legacy. Screening on Saturday, June 20.
More New York Films: Brock Enright, Good Times Will Never Be The Same, Reporter (about the New York Times' Nicholas Kristof!)
2 special events
Food justice, outdoors for free. Two eleven-year-old New York City girls try to answer the question: "Where does my tomato come from?" Think of it as a gentler (but no less probing) look into our food system, along the lines of works like Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma and the documentary Food, Inc.—but in this case, our hosts are two inquisitive young girls who have a real stake in the food of tomorrow. Screening on Saturday, June 27 at Fort Greene Park.
All Night Marathon
There are a host of special events (you can meet genius French filmmaker Arnaud Desplechin, who's in town to introduce screenings of Mississippi Mermaid and The Royal Tenenbaums), but we'd be remiss if we didn't tell you about the all-night marathon, which is our pick for fun. $15 dollars gets you access to a dance party and four separate movie marathons, titled "Diana Ross Coming Out," "Before they Were Scientologists," "All Night Bong," and "BAMcinematek Favorites." Your night could involve the likes of the Ice Cube stoner classic Friday, Pineapple Express, In the Mood for Love, and Look Who's Talking Too, in between dancing good times. Sure to be an epic night! Scheduled for Saturday, June 27.
The Exploding Girl
Zoe Kazan won Best Actress at this year's Festival for her sensitive portrayal of young epileptic Ivy, who's home in Brooklyn for school vacation. As she navigates her relationship with her boyfriend via cell phone, she tentatively slides towards something deeper with her best male friend (the charming Mark Rendall). Gorgeously shot, Bradley Rust Gray's intimate film gets into Ivy's head and finds something approaching grace. Screening Thursday, June 25.
Q&A: The Exploding Girl
In the Loop
Pick up your ticket for this film now. Set to be released theatrically by IFC in July, In the Loop* is a coal-black, nasty little political satire that's achingly brilliant and a little bit terrifying. Adapted (somewhat) from the BBC series The Thick of It, director and writer Armando Iannucci (you also have him to thank for Steve Coogan's I'm Alan Parker) takes his vision to the big screen, following the political madness that ensues—leading up to action in the Middle East—when Simon Foster, a British cabinet minister, publicly states that war is "unforeseeable." It is hilarious. Screening Saturday, June 20.
Discover: In the Loop
Faces of the Festival: Anna Chlumsky
*This film could potentially top Best Picture of the year lists, or it may become a cult classic. It's really fantastic.
Go to the BAMcinemaFEST website for information about the Festival's schedule and ticket availability. There is something for everyone.